Preview
Preview

Stampfer and The Catharsis of King Lear Essay

No Works Cited
Length: 1171 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Stampfer and The Catharsis of King Lear  


At the end of King Lear, when the only characters left standing are Albany, Edgar, and Kent, is the audience supposed to come away from the play with any feeling other than remorse? This search for emotional release by the audience is one which J. Stampfer believes is the most profound problem in King Lear.

The overriding critical problem in King Lear is that of its ending. The deaths of Lear
and Cordelia confront us like a raw, fresh wound where our every instinct calls for
healing and reconciliation. This problem, moreover, is as much one of philosophic
order as of dramatic effect. In what sort of universe, we ask ourselves, can wasteful
death follow suffering and torture?

In his essay "The Catharsis of King Lear," Stampfer discusses sevearal readings of Lear’s death, proves them faulty, and, through analyzation of this and other Shakespearian texts, arrives at his own conclusion concerning Lear’s denouement and the audience’s reaction.

The essay begins with Stampfer defining the relevance of Lear’s death to King Lear and the essay reader. Stampfer does not waste the time of the reader with an elaborate introduction. Instead, the first line defines the problem:

The overriding critical problem in King Lear is that of its ending (361).

Still in the first paragraph, he quotes the line from Lear that causes the interpretation problems, referring to it as Lear’s "desparing question" (361):

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? (v,iii, 306-7)

The rest of the paragraph discusses problems which, in Stampfer’s opinion, cannot be pushed aside, such as the source Shakespeare used to write King Lear, and the Christian referenc...


... middle of paper ...


...ld, and abandons athiesm and attempts to save Lear and Cordelia.

This creates a paradox for Stampfer: if characters such as Lear, Gloucester, and Edmund all go through some sort of awakening, why do they all die? Is there any justice in the universe? Stampfer examines Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo & Juliet, and concludes that in each of those tragedies, the play ends with the "reconciliation of the tragic hero and society" (371). Lear, in Stampfer’s opinion, is "the first tragedy in which the tragic hero dies unreconciled and indifferent to society" (371).

So Stampfer finds it necessary to go over the plot of Lear again, and dervie what within the structure makes Lear different from the before mentioned plays, and attempt to find some sort of catharsis.

Stampfer comes up with several key points. The first is Lear’s abandonment of everything he once knew.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Insanity and the Necessity of Madness in King Lear Essay - The Necessity of Madness in King Lear At the beginning of “King Lear,” an authoritative and willful protagonist dominates his court, making a fateful decision by rewarding his two treacherous daughters and banishing his faithful one in an effort to preserve his own pride. However, it becomes evident during the course of the tragedy that this protagonist, Lear, uses his power only as a means of projecting a persona, which he hides behind as he struggles to maintain confidence in himself. This poses a problem, since the audience is prevented from feeling sympathy for the king....   [tags: King Lear Essays]
:: 10 Works Cited
1871 words
(5.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on traglear Tragic Character in King Lear - The Tragic Character in King Lear In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, the similar events that Lear and Gloucester experience result in a parallel plot sequence for the story. Lear and Gloucester are similar characters because they are experiencing similar problems while playing the role of a father. Their children also have a similar eagerness for power, a problem that both Lear and Gloucester should not have to deal with while addressing serious mental and physical dilemmas. And although the two characters are very similar, the story of King Lear is tragic, and Gloucester’s is not....   [tags: King Lear essays] 941 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Dysfunctional Family of Shakespeare's King Lear Essay - The Dysfunctional Family of King Lear        One of the reasons why Shakespeare is so thoroughly read today is because of his ability to portray human nature so accurately through his characters.  Shakespeare's play, King Lear shows us that humans are treacherous and selfish.  We can also relate to the play because of the family issues that Shakespeare incorporates throughout the work.  Lear's family is definitely a dysfunctional one.  However, the disrupted family unit is the basis for the play's tragedy.  The Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms defines tragedy as "a piece of writing that inspires fear or pity, through which the audience/reader experiences catharsis" (a purgin...   [tags: King Lear essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
2580 words
(7.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear Essay - King Lear's Transition in Shakespeare's Play, King Lear In the play King Lear, by William Shakespeare, the main character, Lear, takes the audience through his journey toward his enlightenment. At the beginning of the play Lear appears to be an arrogant man who is too much of the flesh. He associates money and power with love and respect. Thus, when Lear has given all this material possessions to his daughters, Goneril and Regan, he begins his long journey of self discovery. Through an analysis of two passages, one can see the transition of Lear from a man blinded by the flesh to a caring and compassionate madman that sees the truth....   [tags: King Lear Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1079 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Free King Lear Essays: The Tragedy of King Lear - Tragedy of King Lear Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear are the four most prominent and revered works that William Shakespeare had ever produced, though the first three that I mentioned seem to be recognized as more superior to King Lear.  The opinion of many critics and others who are familiar with the bard’s work, myself included, feel that King Lear is one of, if not, the greatest achievement in William Shakespeare's repertoire.  Many people, however, on the other side of the token, feel that King Lear is not his best play by far which puzzles me as a reader....   [tags: Essays on King Lear] 422 words
(1.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's King Lear - The Redemption of King Lear Essay - The Redemption of King Lear It is said that no other playwright illustrates the human condition like William Shakespeare. Furthermore, it is said that no other play illustrates the human condition like King Lear. The story of a bad king who becomes a good man is truly one of the deepest analyses of humanity in literary history; and it can be best seen through the evolution of Lear himself. In essence, King Lear goes through hell in order to compensate for his sins. Lear's relationship with his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, is, from the beginning, very uncharacteristic of the typical father-daughter relationship....   [tags: King Lear essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
740 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay King Lear's Folly in Shakespeare's King Lear - King Lear's Folly    In Shakespeare's King Lear, the actions of King Lear and of his daughters bring ruin and chaos to England. Social structures crumble, foreign invaders threaten the land, and, in a distinctly non-Hollywood ending, almost everyone dies tragically. The outlook is very bleak, as many of the problems are left unresolved at the end of the play: There is no one in line to assume sovereignty, and justice and virtue have not been restored to their proper places in the country's structure....   [tags: King Lear essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1201 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's King Lear - Goneril and Cordelia in King Lear Essay - The Characters of Goneril and Cordelia in King Lear Nothing makes a story like a good villain, or in this case, good villainess. They are the people we love to hate and yearn to watch burn. Goneril, of Shakespeare’s King Lear, is no exception. Her evils flamed from the very beginning of the play with her lack of sincerity in professing her love for her father: "Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter; Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty; Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare; No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour; As much as child e'er loved, or father found; A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable....   [tags: King Lear essays] 943 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's King Lear - Suffering of Cordelia in King Lear Essay - The tragedy of Shakespeare’s King Lear is made far more tragic and painful by the presence and suffering of the king's youngest daughter, Cordelia. While our sympathy for the king is somewhat restrained by his brutal cruelty towards others, there is nothing to dampen our emotional response to Cordelia's suffering. Nothing, that is, at first glance. Harley Granville-Barker justifies her irreconcilable fate thus: "the tragic truth about life to the Shakespeare that wrote King Lear... includes its capricious cruelty....   [tags: King Lear essays] 1509 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on King Lear - King Lear King Lear of Britain has decided to abdicate his throne. In order to bestow his kingdom between his three daughters; Goneril, Regan and Cordelia he calls them together. His intentions are to split the kingdom between them based on each’s expression of love for him. The two older daughters sweetly talk their way in their father’s heart for sizable kingdoms. Cordelia however, the youngest and Lear’s favorite, sees the sinister motivations of her sisters and tells her father of her deep true feelings....   [tags: King Lear] 396 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]